Microsoft just won a big legal fight with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to allow it to close its $68.7 billion Activision Blizzard acquisition. After a grueling five days of evidence and testimony, a US federal judge has sided with Microsoft to prevent the FTC from securing a preliminary injunction to halt Microsoft from buying Activision Blizzard.
The hearing involved key Xbox executives, including Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer. The Xbox chief has written to Microsoft employees about today’s FTC result, noting that the company’s focus is now on resolving the situation with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Both Microsoft and the CMA have agreed to pause their legal battle to negotiate a potential remedy after the CMA initially blocked the deal over cloud gaming concerns earlier this year. Here’s Phil Spencer’s memo in full:
Today a US District Court judge issued a decision denying the Federal Trade Commission’s request for a preliminary injunction, which would have temporarily blocked our acquisition of Activision Blizzard from closing in the United States. We’re grateful that, upon a review of the evidence and witness testimony, the Court rejected the FTC’s claims that our acquisition would harm consumers. The evidence showed the deal is good for the industry and that the FTC’s claims about console switching, multi-game subscription services, and the cloud do not reflect the realities of the gaming market.
After today’s decision, we are turning our focus to the UK. As you may be aware, a few months ago, the UK Competition and Markets Authority recommended that the deal be prohibited. We disagree with the CMA’s concerns and have challenged its decision on appeal. At the same time, however, we are considering how the transaction might be modified to address the CMA’s concerns in a way that is acceptable to the CMA. In order to prioritize work on potential options, Microsoft and Activision have agreed with the CMA that pausing the appeal now would be in the public interest, and both we and the CMA have made a joint submission to the Competition Appeal Tribunal to this effect.
From the beginning, the Gaming Leadership Team and I have believed that this acquisition will meaningfully benefit players and the gaming industry. Since we announced our intent, our actions have demonstrated our commitment to bringing more games to more people on more devices. This includes numerous signed agreements to make Activision Blizzard’s games, Xbox first party games and Game Pass all available to more players than they are today. I’m proud of our efforts to expand player access and choice throughout the process. This deal has already been cleared to move forward in 38 countries, and we will continue to work toward timely resolution in other jurisdictions.
Thank you to everyone who has devoted their time and dedication in support of our acquisition. We embarked on this deal with a clear vision for meeting players where they are, and with today’s decision by the Court, we take an important step forward in bringing this vision to life.